Last night, I said good-bye to one of my best friends, and the coolest cat to ever live. I’ll never forget the night at the ER where I worked as an assistant 16 years ago, when a woman left a box at our doorstep. No strangers to human irresponsibility, we opened it. He came out like a boss, slapped the curious clinic dog upside the head for a good measure, and proceeded along the counter straight to me. Dad wasn’t keen on letting me have another pet, and after series of foster homes and boarding, Cognac and I moved to Knoxville to start Veterinary School.
College graduation, Vet School graduation, first marriage and divorce, 2 cities, numerous apartments and houses, first job, first own business – this cat has been through it all with me. He was open to any new experience, any new person, dog, and even other cats, with simple expectation: food, litter box, and love. I used to imagine he is a prince trapped in a cat’s body by a cruel enchantment, because he was so clearly, and at times obnoxiously, committed to me. Not a time I could sit down without him climbing in my lap, or wake up without him staring me right in the face. Now I wish I didn’t take those times for granted.
Animals are non-pretentious. They don’t lie, cheat, or judge. They love you the same, regardless of age, gender, race or creed. Their expectations are never extravagant. They don’t calculate how to take advantage or manipulate you – except maybe for an extra treat or space on the bed. Their love is so simple, and yet so genuine. Betrayal is not in their nature, as they are not selfish. Don’t anthropomorphize animals, it robs them of the pureness of heart.
Cognac had a funny habit of weighting himself on my bathroom scale every day. Nothing was yet obviously wrong, but when the scale showed 10.9 instead of his usual 11.4, I knew something was amiss. Lack of appetite and stomach upset followed shortly, and he had a battery of tests and treatments. My sweet boy responded for a short while, only to relapse, and his Quality of Life rapidly became unacceptable. There comes a time when the kindest thing we can do for our loved ones is to let them go. Cognac passed peacefully, and just looked like he was sleeping… I must have held him for hours… Good-bye, my darling. My first and favorite cat, companion, and buddy. Amidst the pain, sorrow, and tears, I must say: THANK YOU for being my cat for 16 years. One day, you will be my cat again. RIP.
PS. I hate cancer.